Saturday, December 13, 2014

New investment opportunity for KBIC?

I haven't heard too much locally about the Justice Department's recent memo regarding marijuana cultivation and sales on tribal lands, but surely there's someone on the KBIC council who can smell a business opportunity when one arises. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, "the Justice Department will generally not attempt to enforce federal marijuana laws on federally recognized tribes that choose to allow it, as long as they meet eight federal guidelines, including that marijuana not be sold to minors and not be transported to areas that prohibit it." 

I think there'd probably be a lot of hand-wringing going on over the potential dangers of commercializing pot if the subject ever gets openly discussed because reservations are often already troubled by substance abuse: alcohol, narcotics, meth, you name it. But I'd be inclined to think that the county would be a lot better off if the drunks and the tweakers evolved into stoners. Drunks get belligerent, start fights, and kill people by driving while intoxicated. Tweakers go crazy, set up shake and bake labs that endanger people, and engage in petty crime to feed their habit. What do stoners do? Get the munchies and giggle a lot. What's the worst that might happen? The profit margins for the local pizza places would improve.

It will be interesting to see what happens if KBIC does decide to get into growing and selling weed. Most of the Village of Baraga, if not all of it, falls within the reservation boundaries. Theoretically, depending on how the tribal council decided to write its laws concerning pot, someone could open a cannabis cafe in one of the currently vacant businesses on Superior Avenue. For that matter, the tribe could add a line of ganja gourmet items to the menu at the restaurant in the casino and put pot brownies next to the Little Debbies in the gas station convenience stores. Well, maybe not right next to the Little Debbies, more like behind the counter with the cigarettes.

Medical marijuana is already legal in Michigan. The biggest problem people have when they're certified to use medical marijuana is finding a good supply. It may be legal to use it, but it's not legal for anyone to sell it. The one loophole is that if you're certified to use medical marijuana, you're allowed to grow up to 6 plants for your own personal use. How you're supposed to get the seeds to start with is, of course, a mystery.
Most people, however, who have medical conditions that benefit from marijuana use (chronic pain, glaucoma, side effects of cancer treatments) aren't that keen on the idea of having to be farmers as well as users, especially when pot is not an especially fast-growing plant. It's not like growing radishes where you plant them one week and by the end of the month they're ready to eat. From seed to weed can take 6 months or more -- there are ways to make it happen faster (grow lights can force a plant into the flowering stage when it's still quite small) but even with the ultimate in hydroponic equipment and plants that are hybrids bred to grow fast, it's not an overnight process.

In short, there is a potential market of buyers. The biggest catch would be that anyone buying marijuana on a reservation would have to use it there -- it would still be illegal to transport it beyond the tribal boundaries. I could get some pot brownies to eat at the museum in Baraga; I couldn't pick some up to bring home for the S.O. to enjoy, too. (It occurs to me that the banker's box full of mangled matchbooks would probably look like a lot more fun to go through if I were thoroughly stoned when I did it. The downside, of course, is I'd probably have really poor judgement while doing so.)

On the other hand, it is now legal to buy marijuana in Colorado but it remains illegal to transport it out of the state. Pot sales in Colorado are booming, but so far as I know the DEA and other law enforcement agencies haven't set up checkpoints at the border to check tourists' luggage. (Do I want to test that perception the next time I go visit my mother? Probably not.)  

Given that a number of states have legalized marijuana, either partially (medical marijuana) or totally, and the reservations have been given carte blanche to do the same, I have a hunch we'll see the complete legalization of marijuana nationally within a decade or two. Law enforcement won't be happy, but then they never are.


  1. The only real problem I have with pot is the detrimental effects of smoking. Pot smokers inhale and keep the smoke in their lungs. I have had quite a few old friends who were chronic pot heads develop lung problems related to smoking as they grow older. More than a few have died from lung cancer, though I am not qualified to say if there proportionally more lung cancer cases from pot than cigarettes. When I was young, I admit I smoked pot. It was part of the world I lived in. I believe it had a very positive effect on me as an artist and musician. It was the effect of smoke on my health and what I saw in my friends that convinced me to quit many years ago. I think most of the allure of pot is the illegality of it. Discouraging and banning tobacco only increases it's allure. Some people become chronic alcoholics or drug addicts. When it becomes "normalized" the mystery, the allure becomes banal. I don't smoke, but I still love the smell of tobacco in a cafe. You could probably talk me into sharing a joint....but as I live in a world where it doesn't exist and I don't think about it, one toke might be more than enough for me!

  2. btw, I have many Dutch friends and visit Amsterdam from time to time. Though pot is legal there, hardly anyone I know uses it. Soon a few other European countries are going to normalize it. I wish France would. Everytime I get on a train and there is an empty car with a few kids in it, it fills up with pot smoke. The laws are still pretty draconian here, but it would seem everyone smokes pot in spite of it. That encourages the criminal aspect of the market. If only we could figure out a way to keep Monsanto out of the business..............

  3. If Colorado is a good example, there seem to be a lot of people who prefer their ganja in edible form rather than smoking it. I agree that heavy smoking of any substance -- weed or tobacco -- is going to mess up a person's lungs.

  4. Nan, if you are interested, I can give you an excellent recipe for shortbread....I had a very good friend in Toledo who was an un wed mother who supported herself nicely in the alternate economy of dealing pot from New Mexico...some of her best customers were a group of nurses from Ann Arbor, MI who bought pot from her to cook with. I was a professional chef at the the time and I invented a recipe to to make traditional scottish shortbreads using THC resin infused butter...the resin has to be assimilated and dissolved in a fat to be used in cooking. That's why brewing tea doesn't really work. The resin is dissolved by fat and what better fat than butter? I assure you, my shortbreads were quite elegant, I decorated them with silver sugar dragees which off set the slightly green aspect of the shortbread cookies. They were esthetically interesting and effective.....

  5. The shortbread recipe offer is tempting, but no thanks. My culinary skills leave a lot to be desired. The S.O. jokes about the smoke alarm serving as a kitchen timer for a reason.


My space, my rules: play nice and keep it on topic.